What Cheese Goes Best with Corned Beef? Top Pairings for Sandwiches & More

Corned beef is a savory, salty cured meat that stars in beloved dishes like corned beef and cabbage, Reuben sandwiches, and hash. Its bold flavor profile calls for an equally tasty cheese pairing that can hold its own.

The melted cheese in corned beef sandwiches or topping corned beef hash takes these comfort foods over the top. But what kind of cheese best complements corned beef’s distinctive taste?

Here’s an overview of the top cheese options to serve with corned beef along with tips for making irresistible pairings in sandwiches, casseroles and more.

Classic Pairings for Corned Beef

Throughout its history of Irish-American tradition, a few cheeses have emerged as tried-and-true matches for corned beef’s seasoning. These classic cheeses incorporate similar flavor elements like salt, tang and creaminess.


Swiss cheese is the traditional pairing found in Reuben sandwiches and deli-style corned beef melts. Its firm yet creamy texture and mild nutty flavor blends perfectly with the spices in the cured meat. The large holes in the cheese also allow it to melt nicely. Swiss adds richness without overpowering.


Slightly sharper than Swiss, provolone has a tangy, smoky flavor that works well with corned beef. Its smooth melting properties make it a top choice for hot sandwiches. Provolone’s saltiness matches the seasoned corned beef. Mild provolone offers more subtle flavor.


For another traditional corned beef cheese, try cheddar. Sharp cheddar provides a nice salty bite to balance the meat while the creamy cheese mellows out the spices. Mild cheddar gives you more of that creamy texture. White cheddar works well too.


Technically not cheese but a common pairing, sauerkraut makes corned beef sing. Its sour, fermented cabbage flavor cuts through the saltiness of the meat. While sauerkraut shines with corned beef, cheese is still needed in a sandwich or dish to provide creamy richness.

Ideal Cheese Qualities for Corned Beef

Beyond specific varieties, corned beef goes best with cheeses that have certain characteristics. Ideal cheeses to pair with corned beef:

  • Creamy, smooth melting – Provides lush full flavor and texture against the meat.

  • Salty qualities – Naturally salty cheeses complement corned beef’s briny seasoning.

  • Piquant flavors – Tangy, sharp cheeses offset the salt and spices.

  • Firm texture – Holds up well when cooked compared to soft cheeses that can become greasy.

  • Mild flavors – Allows the corned beef seasoning to remain the star rather than being overpowered.

Consider cheeses you enjoy with cured meats like salami or pastrami, as similar flavors work well with corned beef. You want the cheese to complement rather than mask the meat.

Other Great Cheeses for Corned Beef

Expanding beyond the classics, almost any cheese with complementary attributes makes corned beef shine. Here are more varieties to try:

  • Gruyère – Nutty and rich like Swiss but with deeper flavor. Melts beautifully.

  • Gouda – Smooth and creamy with lightly salty finish.

  • Monterey Jack – Mild and melty as a base for bolder cheeses.

  • Muenster – Mild yet robust with nice melted texture.

  • ** Havarti** – Creamy with a touch of sharpness.

  • Asiago – Slight crunch from aging with tangy bite. Use shaved.

  • Pepper jack – Spicy kick contrasts the saltiness.

  • Blue cheese – Strong flavor provides an extra punch.

Don’t limit yourself to one cheese either. Combinations like gruyere and cheddar or provolone and pepper jack take the flavors to the next level.

Tips for Pairing Cheese with Corned Beef

To get the most out of each corned beef and cheese pairing, keep these tips in mind:

Match intensities – Pair mild cheeses with milder corned beef and stronger cheeses with spicier cures.

Consider textures – Creamy melted cheese cools spicy meat while firm cheeses hold their own.

Layer flavors – Include a cheese with bite along with one with richness.

Keep cheese cold – Add cheese just before serving so it doesn’t get oily or soft.

Showcase quality cheeses – Splurge on high-end cheeses to equal gourmet corned beef.

Use two slices – In sandwiches, cheese on both sides prevents the bread from getting soggy.

Get grilling – Browning the cheeses enhances their flavors.

Add crunchy contrast – Raw veggies or pickles balance the richness.

Through smart pairings, cheese takes corned beef to new heights of flavor.

Best Cheese for Corned Beef Sandwiches

The favorite way Americans enjoy corned beef is between slices of rye or sourdough bread. The right cheese turns a corned beef sandwich into a memorable meal.

For hot melty sandwiches opt for:

  • Swiss
  • Provolone
  • Cheddar
  • Pepper jack

For a nice texture contrast add thin slices of:

  • Swiss
  • Gruyere
  • Gouda
  • Asiago

Top corned beef cold sandwiches with:

  • Cheddar
  • Pepper jack
  • Havarti
  • Muenster

Ooze melted cheese perfection by double grilling the sandwiches in a panini press. Spread mustard or Russian dressing on the bread to bring everything together.

Perfect Cheese for Corned Beef Hash

To take corned beef hash to new levels, mix in your favorite melting cheese after cooking the corned beef mixture.

The best options for hash are:

  • Cheddar
  • Monterey jack
  • Pepper jack
  • Muenster

For an extra kick of flavor, make layers with shredded cheese in between the meat and potato mixture. Grate on additional cheese before broiling so it gets deliciously browned and crusty on top.

The richness of the cheese takes hearty corned beef hash over the top.

Bake Cheese with Corned Beef

Baked corned beef and cheese combinations are comfort food magic. The cheese absorbs the juices from the meat as it melts, ramping up the flavor.

Some perfect pairings include:

  • Corned Beef au Gratin – Gruyere, Asiago, Havarti

  • Corned Beef Quiche – Swiss, Gruyere, Cheddar

  • Corned Beef Strata – Cheddar, Monterey Jack

  • Corned Beef Custard – Gruyere, Gouda

  • Corned Beef Puff Pastry Cheese Danish – Havarti, Brie, Goat Cheese

Get creative mixing corned beef with your go-to cheeses in bakes, casseroles or handheld pastries for meals that satisfy.

Elevate Corned Beef Cheese Boards

A meat and cheese board is another excellent way to highlight quality cheeses with corned beef. Along with the cured meat, arrange bite-sized wedges of cheeses like:

  • Sharp cheddar
  • Pepper jack
  • Asiago
  • Blue cheese
  • Aged gouda
  • Fresh mozzarella

Provide a range of textures, creaminess and sharpness for contrast. Accompany the meats and cheeses with grainy mustard, pickled vegetables and Irish soda bread for the perfect pairing platter.

From Reubens to hash, cheese adds rich decadence that perfectly offsets salty corned beef. Experiment with melted sandwiches, casseroles, cheese boards and more to discover your favorite cheesy matches.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Grilled Cheese Sandwich


What is the difference between a corned beef sandwich and a Reuben sandwich?

A Reuben is corned beef + Swiss cheese + Russian dressing + sauerkraut. You can ask for a “pastrami Reuben” and they’ll figure it out. A pastrami sandwich would just have pastrami. Or you can ask for a Rachel, which is pastrami + Swiss cheese + cole slaw + Russian dressing.

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